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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Signatures in hand

NEWTON

An organizer of a referendum drive to overturn the recent site plan approval for a new Newton North High School said project opponents have gathered the necessary 2,500 signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

The signatures are due at the city clerk’s office by early this week. Jeff Seideman, president of the Newton Taxpayers Association, said the referendum supporters will be trying to get 1,000 extra residents to sign on in order to avoid falling below the required number because of ineligible signatures.

If the aldermen do not reconsider their approval of the current site plan and the referendum proceeds, residents on both sides of the issue pledged to wage vigorous campaigns.

Seideman said the taxpayers association is prepared to hold forums on the site plan to prepare residents for the vote. Mayor David Cohen, a major backer of the existing high school plan, said he would try to convince voters to support it. He has also warned that a lengthy delay will drive up the cost of the project.

City officials say it's still unclear whether there is time to put the referendum out as part of the upcoming November elections. The aldermen could also call for a special election in 120 days or put the issue on the next citywide ballot in November 2007.

-- Connie Paige

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